tv Politico State Solutions Conference Discussion with Gov. Pritzker CSPAN February 12, 2020 3:07pm-3:32pm EST
something that has been going on in a most every state. so a lot of this was achievable because you came in and democrats have both in the state legislature and sodas having single potter party rule, does t make for good governance questioning. >> not always. let me be clear, the old will rogers line, i don't belong to an organized party, i'm a democrat. that is true in illinois also. just because we have a democratic house and a democratic senate and a democratic governor, that does not mean were always in agreement on everything. and we need leadership in the states, we have been somewhat directionless and the last two years under my predecessor there was really no compromise, no movement forward for the state. we had two years of a budget
crisis. so having a new governor and a new direction for the state, we are really focused on moving the state ahead, trying to solve our physical challenges but also as you mentioned by making some significant changes. in illinois in expanding people's rights and protecting people, lifting up the minimum wage, something very important and the first thing i did as governor . in fact the legislature rudely moves as quickly as they did after i got elected, it was the very first bill that was signed, my wife and i were there at the signing and we had to take separate cars away from the signing and i called her and i said, 1 million people are going to be lifted out of poverty as a result of what we just did, 1,004,000 people will get a raise. if we just quit now, we would have done something really important for the state. of course there was only a
couple years left at that point for but we got a lot done and i'm really proud of that. in part because i had no partners but i worked on both sides of the aisle. a lot of the work was bipartisan in nature and i'd love to talk about the sting. >> one of the big agenda items for the year is overhauling the income tax system preview and have a progressive system that is going to impact wealthier people at a higher rate but has to go to the november voters and they will have to vote on it. what makes you think voters are going to back this. it's a future of the state tied up with us what makes you think questioning. >> we have a very unfair tax system in illinois and only four states that it's mandated flat and context. if you think about all the taxes that people pay in every state virtually every one of them is an aggressive tax. the people who are wealthy, pay the same rate as people who are
poor for the food and their clothing, sales tax, property tax, it doesn't differentiate other than low-income neighborhoods, your property taxes are actually higher than in high income neighborhoods. so the only way that you can really correct for that is in the income tax. just to give you a sense, today in illinois the wealthiest people in the state pay in total about 7% of their income and total taxes. the poorest 20% of people who pay taxes pay 14%. and it basically gradually increases as your income goes down. so that does not seem fair, it should be the other way around. the only way you can correct fo. most states in the united states in the united states government have a graduated income tax because it is fair. >> this is also something that
is come up in the presidential process. elizabeth warren and bernie sanders and others have these very ambitious plans to tax the wealthy more. is taxing wealthy people more according to any plan to address income equality or wealth in equality? >> most of the services in government, most of the investment in government makes to the benefit of 99% of people, and our case it was a graduated income tax will lower taxes or keep taxes the same for 97% of people in illinois, only the top 2.7 or 3% that will pay a little bit more. so addressing income inequality is very important and it's gotten worse and worse income and equality, thought about punishing, it's who should pay the bills, who should bear the
brunt of the burden to pay for our roads and services for mental health, what are we going to do to make it fair for people. and again, the income tax is the best way to do that. if you wanted to lower taxes in illinois, you would lower taxes on everybody because we have a flat tax rate. that does not seem right, i like the idea of lowering tax but we have a structural deficit. i'd be advocating for graduate income tax but it would be different if we did not have a structural deficit of several billion dollars. and that just has to be addressed. we are being efficient and effective about how we administer governor services. i really brought that efficiency to the state, were implementing an erp system and all the other things that will help us bring down cost.
but we also need revenue, this is the best in first week to do it. >> but is that something -- when you have these grander plans around remaking government and you do it without something like a graduated income tax. >> it's possible, it's obviously in other states, and several states that have a flat income tax or no income tax. so it is possible. but for state like illinois where we don't have money coming out of the ground because were not an oil-rich state and other states to have natural resources feeding their state coffers. they may have a different tax system. but for us a big state and diverse population, we have rural, urban, we need a tax system that helps us pay the bills and helps us to address the income and equality issue. >> some members on the state legislature already talking about the next budget for the
state and trying to incorporate during the graduated income tax assuming the voters are going to buy into that. given the sort of economic trials that the state has gone through to put it mildly, does passing a budget without hurting and it assuming that put the state as some financial risk? >> we are going to pass a budget where we can manage either way because we don't know the outcome of the vote in november. but it's a fact, i put out a report, i had the experts in our government put out a report on what exactly is it that we are facing with a 3 billion -- almost 3 billion structural deficit. what are we going to do about that and really showing what whu do.
what are the alternatives, all to you what one alternative is, some people don't want to talk about this and just be against the graduate income tax. but the fact is if you do not address this, 15% cut in education, 15% cut in state police, 15% cut in services for substance abuse, mental health et cetera across the board. that is what you would have to do to address this because obviously we have fixed cost we have to pay interest on our debt and all the other things that are fixed and then you get to discretionary spending, that's where you have to make all these cuts and these are things that affect people's lives particularly the middle-class working family across the state who i've tried to be a champion for in making sure that we protect them while were paying our bills, that seems like an honest way to move forward and frankly and keeping the philosophy that i have. >> should the state legislator way into see the results are or will they move parallel. >> we are required to pass a budget by the end of the session
here, you saw what happened when they did not pass a budget for two years we had a crisis in the state, no budget, we literally deficit spent in our state as a result of a bunch of court orders that were required some spending without a budget. we deficit spent by $600 million a month in illinois. so our backlog of bills, just to give you a sense, it went from $5 billion of a backlog of bills that were more than 90 days overdue to $16.7 billion. and that backlog is still there, we refinanced it is with lower cost to us but fundamentally we still have not paid those bills. so not only do we need to balance the budget but we also need to pay down the backlog of bills and deal with other challenges in the stately glory property tax. >> let's turn to education. this is been one your focal point even before you came into office. many states are dealing with --
illinois and other states are dealing with teacher shortages. and you sort of proposed, let's raise the minimum salary for educators and a few other things, but when the economy is doing well, is that really have a drawn that you want -- >> when you got some teachers getting paid -- a member or teacher minimum salary until we raised it was $8000. so, it seems like that's not going to attract anybody tri-state. and we raise it to $40000 which is a complete the rational ball number to have as a minimum. we want to attract great people to our state and we want people to grow up in illinois and say i want to be a teacher here. and i realize some people say that's public service you should get paid less. i say, maybe you could say that but the reality is teachers have children they want to put
through college, they have bills to pay and a mortgage they want to pay so it seems fair to me that we're going to pay teachers the rational wage that they deserve and one that will attract great people to the profession. we've done a lot to try to aggress teacher shortage in minimum wage is just one of them. >> your state has got praise for the new school funding formula but it needs another $7 billion to meet the gap and have a formula actually work. does it need to have the graduated income tax system restructuring happened or is there some other way -- >> in general, like i said our budget needs -- we have to do something with our structural deficit of our budget. even put that aside, putting aside evidence, you would still need a fair tax system in a
company to help you pay the bills paid but the reality is, here's the thing we have going on in illinois. for using your state government was getting out of the business of funding schools. they were leaving it all to local government to raise property taxes to pay for schools. in the neighborhoods that that hurt were the lowest income neighborhoods in the middle income neighborhoods. wealthier neighborhoods don't get as her, they have to pay a higher tax bill but as you can imagine it's less of an impact on 70 his wealthy. so we have a property tax problem in illinois because we are 50th in the united states and state funding for education. , 24% of the bill for k-12 education. the rest of as you know comes from local property taxes and a little bit from the federal government, 8% or so. as we decline we get out of the business of funding education, property taxes go up.
other states have gone the other direction. where the state is stepping up in the average state is about half-and-half, half from the state government, half from local government and property taxes. so we need to turn it around and head that direction. were not going to get there right away but is the direction we need to go in that funding model is assented. it allows us to fund the schools that need it most which happened to be in the neighborhood with the highest property taxes. and we help lift up the schools and those kids in poor neighborhoods and middle-class neighborhoods that have been put upon by the failures of state government. >> let's turn to another subject. marijuana legalization, lack of other states are watching illinois, what is sort of baked into your plan, the bill that passed in illinois was a social equity plan to try to give communities a pillar that was
impacted by the war on drugs and what not to add diversity and give them a shot at this potentially billion dollar industry in the state. now, most states have not cracked this, they can legalize marijuana but figuring out the social equity problems has been hit or miss to say the least. in chicago, some of the early licenses did not reflect diversity. how is the administration planning around that and trying to recruit that. >> i want to point out the social equity component which is the prime component of cannabis legalization bill is much more than about allowing people to get into the industry who otherwise have been left on the fine. we for example have a massive program, 300,000 people in our state will either be pardoned
and have their records expunged or the arrest record will be taken away. a lot of people with arrest records may not have been convicted but if you go to apply for a job and they asked if you been arrested you have to check that box when you were 19 years old and did something stupid. and years later you're still checking the box and people suspected. so we are going to get rid of that impediment for people who could go brett and apartment that they could not before or get a job. that's an important part. as you know, cannabis convictions have been unfairly biased, the convictions upon people of color. and so were reversing the damage. that is one thing we are doing, the second, many of the dollars that come into the state from cannabis legalization, from the taxation go back into those exact neighborhoods in the neighborhoods that have been fighting the war in most put upon the work by cannabis. so that's another component. >> you're raising the issue of who's going to get into business. here's what happened
historically in all the other ten states before the 11th state, illinois came along. they legalize number one by referendum, we did by legislation. we had legislation that was worked on for more than two years. so it was very carefully crafted. what happened to other states, all the sudden the voters voted and then it was a mass scramble to get the thing done because they were required to. ours was very intentional and so what we wanted to do is make sure people, not just people of color but people who traditionally have not been able to get into the business from neighborhoods all over the state would have a shot at this. we created a program that does that. let me address what you are suggesting, we know we need to get more people into the industry, we have not yet. the way we started the industry, we wanted to make sure it was highly regulated and we were managing the regulation properly. we allowed the medical cannabis
operators and legalize medical cannabis five years earlier. the medical cannabis operators were the first ones to get into the industry. and shortly after that we would take applications from new entrants into the industry. my predecessor authorized 15 licenses and the medical cannabis industry all from white male owners. so nothing horribly wrong but no diversity, we need to to fix that. so in this bill that we passed, the next round of licenses which people have already applied for, these will be granted in may. there is a social equity component, you get extra point essentially on application if you fit certain criteria or from a certain neighborhood that has an economic criteria associated with it. all of this is designed to make sure that we've got a diversity of applicants in a diversity of
ownership among all the different pieces of the cannabis industry because people always think it's a dispensary you're talking about but of course there's health sites, transportation, all the other pieces of the industry. we are very focused on having a social equity component be successful and that's why so many other states that are on the verge of legalizing cannabis are looking like what we did in calling us and asking us, what did you do, how do we get that done in our state. >> part of what has happened in california, they did the legalization but not the social equity program and packaged their way to illinois. it's created an illicit market, it's hurt some of the legitimate businesses. really quick, how are you for sorta preparing for that? there will still be some business because towns and cities -- >> there's an illicit market out
there of people who go by alcohol and give it to minors. it's illegal, we want to prosecute that. there's going to be a black market of some sort, the question is, are you managing this properly preview have to recognize, in illinois we had gaps from synthetic marijuana then deaths from illegally manufactured teaching cartridges from vaping. so what you get when you go to a dispensary, a legal dispensary in the state of illinois is a product you know is safe, safely manufactured, tested, et cetera. we are being very careful about that. i think that the advantage of people find and the reason you do not want to find a dealer that will sell you something that you don't know what's in it or where it came from, that's why people are showing up at the dispensaries and we had a great first month, most important
about why it's great, it's not just revenue to those businesses but it was also great because we had very few challenges, things you might expect would crop up within an industry that shows up. we had one dispensary that was broken into because they have cash, we don't have a great banking system in the united states, if you legalize cannabis in your state we have to solve the problem at the federal level. anyway were on our way and redoing it in the right way and being careful making adjustments as we go. this is a new thing for illinois and frankly it's still new in the nation. >> let's get to 2020. what's amusing -- not amusing, illinois is going to be a shoe in for whoever is the democratic nominee in november. iowa, wisconsin, your neighbors,
kinda tossup's. are you concerned the length of the campaign, the length of the primary season without having a central candidate to focus on has made it harder to focus on beating president trump? >> i remember back in 1991 leading into the 1992 elections and the election started occurring in 1992. there were seven democratic candidates running that virtually nobody had heard of or they call them the seven doors, any of you old enough remember, and george h. w. bush had a 91% approval rating because he had just come off of the desert storm and so everybody said, there is no chance for a democrat to win in 1992. and you saw what happened. one of those people that they called the seven doors became president and had to successful terms as president. it strikes me, when you talk
about this election season, anybody who thinks they know what is going to happen in the swing states now is just wrong. we don't know, we know what the swing states are but iowa, wisconsin, michigan, pennsylvania, arizona, these are all swing states that whoever wins those states is probably going to win the election. the affect it will have in illinois is several, we will have an impact still on the primaries. we have a march 17 primary if you all believe it won't be settled on the democratic side by march 17. illinois is a big state that will weigh in. we will have an impact on choosing the presidential nominee for democrats. in the general election will have an effect because we have an active political environment in illinois.
trust me it's happened in previous years man loads and busloads of people from illinois will pour over the borders into wisconsin and iowa and help knock on doors and working with a ground operation in those states and i'm excited about us being able to help. >> for those of you who don't know, you're a billionaire. you spent. [laughter] you spent about $160 million and you run for governor. >> against the guy who spent 100 plus million dollars. [laughter] >> fair enough. lots of money. no debate there. but looking at the presidential race, we have seen popular candidates like senator, harris dropped out because of money, do you think that is fair? >> first of all, i don't know if you remember, kamala harris raised a lot of money early on
and i know her, i think she is a terrific person and was a good candidate. one of the challenges, i've said this to some of the presidential candidates over the last two who come through illinois, they will either into the race late and use the resources that you have at that point to shoot yourself into the middle of this exciting race late or you got abide your resources or by your time really. here's often what happens they get tired of the front runners. i think we all remember john kerry was back in the pack in 2004. until people got tired of the front runners. i think the front runners at that